Branson’s team brokered a deal with Aabar Investments, owed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, which would see him take a 32 per cent stake in Virgin Galactic for $280m (£170m).
But the deal caused a stir within the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which has a role in checking the national security implications of foreign investments.
Virgin Galactic proposes to fire tourists into space from a launch pad in New Mexico, hence why the CFIUS has jurisdiction in the matter. Unencumbered Branson expects to start commercial flights in the next few years – his own family are expected to be among the first passengers.
According to The Times newspaper, Virgin has been ordered to release more details about the deal with Aabar Investments. The CFIUS probe into the matter will take 30 days, at which point it could approve the transaction or launch a deeper investigation, taking a further 45 days.
Commentators are speculating as to the likely impact on relations between Middle East investors and America, which has looked into similar cases before, including the sale of P&O to Dubai World. Related articles:Richard Branson launches new ventureWill Richard Branson finally win the Lottery?Richard Branson’s tips for business successAfraid of flying” Richard Branson can help